Oedipus the king
This presentation is the property of its rightful owner.
Sponsored Links
1 / 48

Oedipus the King PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

Oedipus the King. Oedipus the King also known by the Latin title Oedipus Rex , is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed c. 429 BCE. Riddle of the Sphinx. Greek mythology S phinx sat outside of Thebes asked travelers a riddle.

Download Presentation

Oedipus the King

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

Oedipus the king

Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King also known by the Latin title Oedipus Rex, is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed c. 429 BCE

Riddle of the sphinx

Riddle of the Sphinx

  • Greek mythology

  • Sphinx sat outside of Thebes asked travelers a riddle.

  • Failed to solve the riddle, then death

  • Correct, then the Sphinx would destroy herself.

The answer

The Answer

"Man, who crawls in infancy, walks upright in his prime, and leans on a cane in old age."



  • “Central from the very beginning: the idea of paradox, of riddling wisdom, of the one-that-is-many: much of the meaning of the play derives from the specifics of the poetic wording”

Link to family tree images of stage

Link to Family Tree / Images of Stage

  • http://www.aug.edu/~nprinsky/Humn2001/oed-nq.htm

    Cadmus- mythical founder and first king of Thebes, a city in central Greece where the play takes place

Dionysus festivals of dionysus

Dionysus- Festivals of Dionysus

  • Tragedies performed in spring at the annual state religious festival in honor of Dionysus.

  • Contest between three playwrights- three days.

  • Each playwright – one trilogy of tragedies + one comic piece called a satyr play.

  • At most three actors + chorus


    ource: http://faculty.gvsu.edu/websterm/Tragedy.htm

Oedipus the king

  • Greek theatre was in the open air

  • performances probably lasted most of the day. Performances were apparently open to all citizens, including women, but evidence is scanty.

  • The theatre of Dionysus at Athens probably held around 12,000 people

Greek theater masks

Greek Theater - Masks

  • All actors were male and wore masks

  • Masks may have amplified sound

  • Masks exaggerated dominant characteristics of the role.

The greek chorus

The Greek Chorus

  • A Greek chorus chanted, danced and sang (in unison)

  • Presents background and summary information to help the audience follow the performance

  • Expresses to the audience what the main characters cannot say - hidden fears or secrets.

  • Provides characters with needed insights

  • Comments on important themes

  • Reflects on the choices of characters and their validity or morality

  • Entrance and exit sign like a curtain rising or closing

Role of the chorus

Role of the Chorus

  • “The attention of the audience was not primarily to be held by the factor of suspense or the desire to see what happens. And this was the most fitting condition for the art form which was to invite not a passing curiosity but profound contemplation of eternal truths.”

The chorus in oedipus

The Chorus in Oedipus

  • With them we are the citizens of Thebes

  • We are both in the tragedy and spectators of it

  • Represent the Theban Elders in Oedipus

What is close reading

What is close reading?


  • Word choice

  • Allusions (to philosophers, to Greek culture, to other stories)

  • Symbols

  • Connotation of words

  • Tone

    Pay attention to details as you read. Connect the details to your overall understanding of the text, its themes, motifs, characters, and developing plot.

Symbols of supplication

Symbols of Supplication

Who are the supplicants and why have they come?

  • Why did the people carry boughs to the twin altars of Pallas? Why did they place sacred embers of divination beside the river of Ismenus? How does the presentation of boughs to Oedipus impact the setting of the opening scene?

Film rendition

Film Rendition

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS9KJ_bAJLE

    What is different about how the play is shown in this film rendition?

    Pay close attention to the film’s representation of The Chorus. What is the role of The Chorus in the opening scenes?

Aristotle s poetics and oedipus

Aristotle's Poetics and Oedipus

  • The POETICS of Aristotle represents the first major work of literary criticism in western thought.

  • Reacting against Plato's (somewhat) serious charge that the poet is father of lies--three times removed from the truth, he offered ideas that have been applied (somewhat inaccurately) to most plays written since his time.

  • His favorite play and the one he used as a model for the POETICS is OEDIPUS.

    Link: http://www.stjohns-chs.org/english/Arist/Arist.html



  • in his Poetics, Aristotle considered Oedipus the King to be the tragedy best matched his prescription for how drama should be made

  • "Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and possessing magnitude.. .in the mode of action; not narrated; and effecting pity and fear [what we call) catharsis of such emotions."

  • Link: http://www.stjohns-chs.org/english/Arist/Arist.html

Oedipus the king


  • The imitation of the action is the plot. Tragedy is not an imitation of men but of actions and life. It is in action that happiness and unhappiness are found, and the end which we aim at is a kind of activity... It is for the sake of their actions that [agents] take on the characters they have. Thus, what happens--that is, the plot--is the end for which a tragedy exists, and the end or purpose is the most important thing of all.. it is whole, [having] a beginning, middle and end.

Universal truths

Universal Truths

  • Dramatic poetry's function is.. not to report things that have happened, but rather to tell of such things that might happen.. .to express the universal.

  • Aristotle speaks of the need for mature tragedy to have a complex action by which he meant that reversal and recognition result logically from a change in fortune:

    • Reversal is a change from one state of affairs to its exact opposite.

    • Recognition is a change from ignorance to knowledge.. on the part of those who are marked for good fortune or bad.

Irony versus paradox

Irony versus Paradox

  • It is ironic that "Oedipus can only fulfill his exceptional god-ordained destiny because Oedipus is a preeminently capable and intelligent human being.

  • Remember irony and paradox are related, but not the same thing.

  • The fact that Teiresias is blind and yet can see the truth is not really ironic. It is a paradox. Here we have two seemingly conflicting ideas that coexist. The reason it is not irony is because there is no reason why would necessarily expect a blind man to be ignorant; therefore, it is not really ironic.

Fate versus free will

Fate versus Free Will

  • Cedric Whitman noted that "the Oedipus Rex passes almost universally for the greatest extant Greek play..."[9] Whitman himself regarded the play as "the fullest expression of this conception of tragedy," that is the conception of tragedy as a "revelation of the evil lot of man," where a man may have "all the equipment for glory and honor" but still have "the greatest effort to do good" end in "the evil of an unbearable self for which one is not responsible.[

Fate versus free will1

Fate versus Free Will

  • The idea that attempting to avoid an oracle is the very thing which brings it about is a common motif in many Greek myths

  • Where do we see this in the actions of Oedipus?

Elements of tragedy

Elements of Tragedy

  • Downfall of a noble hero or heroine, usually through some combination of hubris, fate, and the will of the gods.

  • Tragic hero encounters limits of human frailty: flaws of reason and hubris.

  • The gods (through oracles, prophets, fate), or nature factor into the conflict.



  • Aristotle says that the tragic hero should have a flaw and/or make some mistake (hamartia). The hero need not die at the end, but he / she must undergo a change in fortune. In addition, the tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition (anagnorisis--"knowing again" or "knowing back" or "knowing throughout" ) about human fate, destiny, and the will of the gods. Aristotle quite nicely terms this sort of recognition "a change from ignorance to awareness of a bond of love or hate."

Hamartia mistake or error

Hamartia: Mistake or Error

.. Good men ought not to be shown passing from prosperity to misfortune, for this does not inspire either inspire pity or fear, but only revulsion; nor evil men rising from ill fortune to prosperity.. neither should a wicked man be seen falling from prosperity into misfortune.. We are left with the man whose place is between these extremes. Such is the man who on the one hand is not preeminent in virtue and justice, and yet on the other hand does not fall into misfortune through vice or depravity. He falls because of some mistake:'[often mistranslated as a tragic (moral) flaw].



  • Often said to be his "hubris/hybris" (both spellings are acceptable). What is hybris? NOT really "pride"-- a poor translation. Rather, it is the quality of not keeping awareness of your human limitations: the opposite of sophrosyne (= "moderation").

  • "know thyself" = "know that you are not a god, that you have human limitations"

  • hamartia = "error"

Elements of plot aristotle tragedy

Elements of Plot – Aristotle/ Tragedy

  • http://www2.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/oedipusplot.html#unity

  • The plot must be “a whole,” with a beginning, middle, and end with a causal relationship between events.

  • The plot must be “complete,” having “unity of action.” By this Aristotle means that the plot must be structurally self-contained, with the incidents bound together by internal necessity, each action leading inevitably to the next with no outside intervention, no deus ex machina (context).

Elements of plot aristotle tragedy1

Elements of Plot – Aristotle/ Tragedy

  • The plot must be “of a certain magnitude” both quantitatively (length, complexity) and qualitatively (“seriousness” and universal significance).

  • The plot may be either simple or complex, although complex is better. Simple plots have only a “change of fortune” (catastrophe). Complex plots have both “reversal of intention” (peripeteia) and “recognition” (anagnorisis) connected with the catastrophe.

    Link: http://www2.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/poetics.html

Characters in tragedy should have the following qualities context

Characters in tragedy should have the following qualities (context):

  • “good or fine.” Aristotle relates this quality to moral purpose and says it is relative to class: “Even a woman may be good, and also a slave, though the woman may be said to be an inferior being, and the slave quite worthless.”

  • “fitness of character” (true to type); e.g. valor is appropriate for a warrior but not for a woman.

  • “true to life” (realistic)

  • “consistency” (true to themselves). Once a character's personality and motivations are established, these should continue throughout the play.

  • “necessary or probable.” Characters must be logically constructed according to “the law of probability or necessity” that governs the actions of the play.

  • “true to life and yet more beautiful” (idealized, ennobled).

    Source: http://www2.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/poetics.html

Oedipus rex prologue


  • The city of Thebes is ravaged by plague

  • Citizens beg King Oedipus for help

Oedipus rex prologue1


  • Oedipus sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi.

Oedipus rex prologue2


  • Creon returns and announces that the plague will end when the Thebans punish the murderer of the their previous king, Laius.

Oedipus rex prologue3


  • Oedipus tries to take the role of savior and vows to do everything in his power to apprehend the murderer and save his people

Oedipus rex prologue4


  • Oedipus does not realize that his vow will relentlessly lead him to an encounter with himself, his past, and his darkest secrets!!!

Main characters




  • blind prophet and servant of Apollo

  • reveals the reasons for the devastation and plague in Thebes



  • one of the most powerful characters in the play

  • tells Oedipus he will become blind and poor



  • the wife and mother of Oedipus

  • she tells Oedipus not to trust in the oracles

  • she tries to protect Oedipus from the awful truth



  • she alternately condemns and upholds the authority of the oracles as best suits the direction of the argument at the moment



  • protagonist

  • his name means “swollen-foot”

  • he inspires both pity and fear



  • a hereditary curse has been placed on his family, and he unknowingly has fulfilled the terms of the prophecy that he would kill his father (Laius) and marry his own mother (Jocasta)



  • when he curses the murderer of Laius he is cursing himself and predicting his own exile and consequent life of “wretchedness.”



  • he is wise, revered by his subjects, and dedicated to the discovery of truth

  • he wants to rid Thebes of the plague, but fate and the gods have other things in store for him

Chorus of theban elders

Chorus of Theban Elders

  • men of Thebes who honor and respect the king and the gods

  • their odes reveal both a strong attachment to the king as well as grounding in religious culture



  • brother of Laius

  • Oedipus feels threatened by Creon and believes that he covets the throne

  • Creon defends himself saying he has no desire to be king and that Oedipus harms himself in making such accusations



  • tells Oedipus that King Polybos of Corinth is dead

  • Oedipus learns from the messenger that Polybos was not his father

  • the messenger had been given Oedipus as an infant by one of Laius’ men

Shepherd of laius

Shepherd of Laius

  • reveals his information only after Oedipus threatens his life

  • admits to receiving the infant (he gave to Polybos’ messenger) from Laius and Jocasta

  • Oedipus eventually realizes his own identity and his crimes of patricide and incest after hearing the shepherd’s story

Second messenger

Second Messenger

  • announces and describes Jocasta’s suicide

  • predicts future sorrows for a people whose kings descend from this polluted line

The chorus

The Chorus

  • choral odes bring an additional viewpoint to the play

  • offer a broader and more socio-religious perspective than those offered by individual characters

  • Login